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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

Noctowl BREAK - Fates Collide
Date Reviewed: July 26, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary
Standard: 2.25   Expanded: 2.25    Limited: Promo

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.  1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page

 


Otaku

Soaring into our second Card of the Day is Noctowl BREAK.  As a Colorless Pokémon it won’t be able to exploit Weakness or have to worry about Resistance.  There are some anti-Colorless attacks but on Pokémon that just don’t see successful competitive play (even when a Colorless deck has been on top!).  There are also some pro-Colorless effects specific to the Type: Altaria (XY: Roaring Skies 74/108; XY: Black Star Promos XY46) cancels out their Weakness, Aspertia City Gym grants them +20 HP, and Winona to search out three of them at a time.  I go back and forth on whether to credit them for their non-Type specific support; Winona can snag Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) so I guess that is substantial, but then again not all decks focused on a Colorless Pokémon run Winona.  Usually when I talk about this it is because common Energy requirements and heavily played pieces of support make something used frequently off Type work better on Type.  Keldeo-EX is probably the best example; it is played off Type for its “Rush In” Ability with its “Sacred Sword” attack still sometimes being handy, but in a Water deck that (presumably) furnish it more easily with large amounts of [W] Energy it can be as or more important as a main attacker.  With all that being said, being a Colorless Type isn’t bad, but it isn’t especially good.  Its best benefit comes from how they usually have all Colorless Energy requirements and thus can fit off Type with relative ease. 

As a BREAK Evolution of a Stage 1, Noctowl BREAK acts like a pseudo-Stage 2; roughly the same amount of effort to hit the field, but unable to take advantage of the various bits of Stage 2 support or have to worry about the anti-Stage 2 cards.  Generic Evolution support or counters will still apply though, as would any specific BREAK support or counters, but I don’t know of any such effects.  Noctowl BREAK has 130 HP, which would be the low end for a Stage 2.  The good news is that it just barely gets to that point where I guesstimate that it’s more likely to survive than be OHKO’d.  The bad news is that you’re investing a lot to get to that point.  Noctowl BREAK has one attack on it, “Night Scan”, which costs [CCC] and does 60+ damage.  The “+” is your opponent reveals his or her hand and the attack does 30 more damage for each Trainer card you find there.  Trainer, so Items, Stadiums, or Supporters all add to the damage.  Weakness, Resistance, Retreat Cost, Abilities, and any additional attacks will depend on the Noctowl from which Noctowl BREAK Evolves.  We’ll also need a Hoothoot as well, so now we’ll look at Hoothoot (BW: Plasma Freeze 91/116), Hoothoot (XY: BREAKthrough 119/162), Noctowl (BW: Plasma Freeze 92/116), and Noctowl (XY: BREAKthrough 120/162).  All are Colorless Pokémon with Lightning Weakness, Fighting Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], no Ancient Trait, and no Ability.  Which means Noctowl BREAK will have Lightning Weakness (not the worst), Fighting Resistance (handy but not huge), and a Retreat Cost of [C] (good). 

Both Hoothoot are 60 HP Basic Pokémon with just one attack.  BW: Plasma Freeze 91/116 can use “Dual Draw” for [C] to make both players draw two cards.  Not a large enough amount to be useful for a depletion deck, so giving each player the same amount of draw when (as an attack) your opponent will be able to use the freshly drawn cards first is not a good thing in Expanded or Standard play, though still decent enough to be worth using when you’re a bit desperate.  XY: BREAKthrough 119/162 can use “Proclaim the Night” for [CC] and it’s just “Quaking Punch” from Seismitoad-EX but without the damage.  That isn’t a bad thing as this can be useful at slowing down your opponent, especially early game.  Now for Noctowl: both are Stage 1 Pokémon with 90 HP and two attacks.  BW: Plasma Freeze 92/116 has “Powerful Vision” for [CC] and “Fly” for [CCC].  The former does 10 damage times the number of cards in your opponent’s hand while the latter does 50 and prevents all effects of attack (including damage) done to “this Pokémon” during your opponent’s next turn but is “tails fails”.  Keeping up the pattern, neither of these are great but they aren’t worthless: Powerful Vision can get a solid hit if your opponent lets his or her hand swell and Fly is great when it works, but horrible when it whiffs. 

XY: BREAKthrough 120/162 also has one [CC] attack (High Flight) and one [CCC] attack (Speed Dive).  The former has both players reveal their hand and does 20 damage per Item card in each while the latter does a vanilla 70 for three.  We looked at Noctowl (XY: BREAKthrough 120/162) earlier this year.  My advice for using it hasn’t changed but the prognosis has: if you lock down Items with Vileplume (XY: Ancient Origins 3/98) not only can you tap any Items left in your own hand for extra damage, but your opponent’s hand will likely keep filling with more and more Items as well.  High Flight just needs four Items between the two of you to out perform Speed Dive.  You’ll need a lot more than that to rival an attacker like Vespiquen (XY: Ancient Origins 10/98), but it is possible you could reach that level.  Speed Dive is decent as a filler attack; toss on a Muscle Band and Noctowl can 2HKO the typical big Basic Pokémon-EX, plus all Stage 2 Pokémon, nearly all Stage 1, all regular Basic Pokémon, etc. excluding those with some sort of HP buff or other protection.  The big concern is that your opponent will most likely manage to use N or Professor Sycamore to flush away his or her hand, replacing it with another that probably won’t have as many Item cards in it.  You’ll see it coming though since you’re seeing your opponent’s hand turn after turn, though your opponent will have the same insight into your own immediate plans. 

This is where Noctowl BREAK comes in as it plumps up the HP of our feathery attacker while giving it an attack that is a better form of High Flight.  Yes you need another Energy to make it work, but now you don’t worry about your own hand at all.  That is good; though you have more control over your own hand than your opponent, their N shuffles away your build up of Items as well as your opponent’s plus the best draw power is N or Professor Sycamore or Shaymin-EX and none of those plays well with keeping a plump hand.  You stop giving your opponent a head’s up about your plans, you get base damage of 60 (just 10 less than Speed Dive) and now if your opponent has even one single Trainer card (Item, Stadium or Supporter) you do 90.  Okay, 90 isn’t great but that whole 2HKO thing mentioned with a Muscle Band backed Speed Dive applies.  Two Trainers means 120 and now we have a solid 2HKO attack for everything but Wailord-EX and protected Pokémon.  Three more means 150 damage, but against most decks that won’t be a big deal.  Four Trainers in hand will take a little time and/or luck, but if your opponent can’t avoid it, that is 180 damage, taking out a lot of the metagame in one shot. 

The reason you’ll only be doing this for fun is because Noctowl BREAK is an inferior choice to Vespiquen.  Probably some other Vileplume dance partners as well.  There is a sliver of hope though; once Karen releases there might be a small niche for a deck built around Noctowl and Vileplume.  If you are unaware Karen released a little bit ago in Japan and is a Supporter that shuffles all Pokémon from both player’s discard piles into their (respective) decks.  This hits decks built around filling your discard pile with Pokémon harder than Lysandre’s Trump Card; it also returned the Trainers you needed to thin your deck and refill your discard pile.  Noctowl BREAK is not legal for Limited play but if it was, it would be alright.  You’d likely never reach high damage counters with Night Scan, or rather wouldn’t be able to hold it for long, but this would force your opponent to burn Trainers he or she would rather save in a format where they are scarce, you would see the opponent’s hand turn after turn, and 60-for-three damage on a 130 HP pseudo-Stage 2 that can use any Energy Type is itself good in Limited. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.25/5 

Expanded: 2.25/5 

Limited: N/A 

Summary: Noctowl BREAK isn’t going to be breaking into tournament top cuts anytime soon, but indeed it may have a chance in the future.  For now enjoy it as a kind of fun deck, though the speed at which Vileplume locks down Items means I wouldn’t consider most decks using it to be casual or fun.  The Noctowl BREAK Evolution line does it right, with a Hoothoot that can be risked to shut down Items on the first turn you attack, instead of having a big, beefy Basic like Seismitoad-EX open or speed Vileplume into play before your opponent even gets a turn via Forest of Giant Plants.


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